Gov. Charlie Baker and the state’s electric utility companies on Wednesday announced they’ve selected Mayflower Wind to provide 804 megawatts of offshore wind power from turbines built on a federal lease site approximately 20 miles due south of Nantucket.
Mayflower Wind Energy LLC is jointly owned by Shell New Energies (parent company is Dutch Shell oil) and EDP Renewables North America, which builds, owns and operates wind farms and solar parks across North America, according to a press release from Mayflower.
The project, which will now enter the permitting phase, is projected to be completed by 2025. It is expect to create up to 10,000 state jobs and eliminate 1.7 million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road, according to Mayflower.
The company estimates the project could fulfill the electric power needs of half a million homes.
“Offshore wind is an important component of our administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide affordable energy options,” Baker wrote in a press release Wednesday announcing the selection of Mayflower Wind.
The Mayflower project is the state’s second wind procurement behind Vineyard Wind, which has successfully negotiated a contract to build an 84-turbine, 800 megawatt offshore wind farm approximately 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard to the northwest of the Mayflower site. A joint venture between Orsted and Eversource also entered a power purchase agreement to sell electricity from a 400 megawatt wind farm to National Grid in Rhode Island.
There were three bidders for the Nantucket site including Mayflower, Vineyard Wind and Bay State Wind. In the request for proposals, developers were asked to submit projects between 200 and 800 megawatts, and the megawatt-hour price was capped at $84.23.
Construction was expected to begin on the Vineyard Wind project this year, but it has been delayed by at least six months as the federal Bureau of Ocean Management prepares an additional environmental impact analysis after the National Marine Fisheries Service, Coast Guard and federal EPA asked for more data on fish stocks and safety.
“It’s great that Massachusetts keeps trying to make progress toward needed carbon-replacing power sources but we are stymied by the refusal of the Trump administration to get out of the way of necessary and beneficial wind projects,” said Andrew Gottlieb, executive director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod.
Prices for offshore wind power are expected to drop in the near future, making it one of the cheapest sources of power.
A 2018 report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that solar and onshore wind power generation worldwide was now the cheapest source of utility-scale power in all major economies except Japan, according to an article in Power Engineering International. Thanks to larger turbines capturing more of the wind’s power, the price of electricity from offshore wind is expected to drop below onshore wind farm prices within this decade, according to a January 2019 report in Renewable Energy World.
Bids were returned by Aug. 30 and were evaluated by the state’s three electric distribution companies: Eversource, National Grid and Unitil. The bid process was monitored by an independent evaluator selected by the state Department of Energy Resources and Attorney General Maura Healey’s office.
The state would have weighed in on the selection only if the choice was not unanimous.
The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 required reductions in greenhouse gas emissions between 10% to 25% below 1990 emissions by 2020, and 80% by 2050. In 2010, the 2020 goal was modified to a reduction of 25%.
With the selection of Mayflower Wind, the state appears to be on its way to meeting the goal of 1,600 megawatts from offshore wind production by 2027 set by Gov. Baker’s Energy Diversity Act of 2016. The act requires that electric distribution companies purchase that amount of power from offshore renewables by 2027, along with 1,200 megawatts of clean power.
The combined wind projects represent 12% of the state’s annual energy demand, according to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Energy officials said the state’s solar incentive program could result in a doubling of the amount of photovoltaic power currently installed to 1,600 megawatts.
Last year, Barnstable signed a $16 million host community agreement with Vineyard Wind to bring transmission ashore and run it to an Eversource substation in Independence Park. If Vineyard Wind was successful, a second line would have been routed to an Eversource substation on Oak Street in West Barnstable, which would have cost an additional $16 million.
“We haven’t had any direct contact with (Mayflower Wind) to the best of my knowledge,” McLaughlin said Wednesday. “We did hear from Bay State Wind. There is capacity to bring the project to shore in Barnstable.”
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